On Kindness

Humans are capable of so many things that move on the spectrum of amazingly positive to amazingly negative to amazingly cruel. When I read the news, it amazes me what’s happening in the world that’s being reported on. And of course, there are plentiful things which are missed which is where I enjoy social media.

Kindness is one of those activities which most people are familiar with. As a value it’s probably held up there as one of the few which are true human values. Interestingly, humans aren’t the only species capable of kindness. So there seems to be an evolutionary element to it too, which is interesting.

It can be sometimes hard to recognise someone’s kindness to us. Often when someone offers a kind act, unless the context of the situation helps us understand that, it might go missed. These days, acts of kindness tend to be when you donate to charity or pay for your friends meal or ring a friend who’s having a hard time. I wonder if the opportunities for kindness have always been there and we just express them differently today to yesteryear.

Kindness taps into our compassion. We recognise when someone might be in need of some help and support. Some argue that there isn’t enough compassion in the world. Some argue that capitalism is the antithesis of compassion and of kindness. Some argue we’ve all become too selfish to be kind. We expect recogntion of our kind effort therefore negating the act itself.

Being considerate to others is and always will be a winner. It does so much social and personal good. Relationships are built on it, communities thrive because of it, conflict dissolves because of it, and resilience is built by it.

This thing of kindness, I wonder how we manifest it at work? I wonder how many feel they can be kind to their fellow workers? I wonder how managers act in kind ways? I wonder if kindness is accepted at all in the workplace? I wonder if we were more kind would we have so many conflicts arising at work? I wonder if kindness were more accepted, would people do it more?

And then of self-kindness. How do we recognise that we need to be more kind to ourselves? We talk a lot about work-life balance. Are we just saying we need to be more kind to ourselves? What does that mean? How do I do that? Isn’t that just another form of selfishness? How am I helping anyone else if I’m only being kind to myself?

So, today is World Kindness Day. If you choose to act kindly, that’s only going to be an excellent thing. If you choose not to, that’s just life.

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Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

3 thoughts on “On Kindness”

  1. Interesting article and comments as to how it might relate to the workplace. The way I see it, having recently read the book ‘Why your boss is programmed to be a dictator’, most managers, team leaders and leaders in general get affected by their ego and behave differently when appointed. This in turn inspires a negative change in the behaviour of employees under their charge, all because the manager has ‘power’ and everybody knows it. The book surmises that if leaders were freely elected, at all levels, just as a PM or President is elected (and can therefore be de-selected) then bad behaviour would be less prevalent. I suggest less prevalent rather than eradicated because you only need to look at the bad behaviour of MPs to realise we don’t live in a perfect world! However at least MPs can be de-selected by their consituents! Therefore, genuine kindness in the workplace would be more prevalent if the balance of power were equal and leaders could lose their livelihoods for poor behaviour towards their employees. Bring it on, I say! As a manager, I would personally welcome the approach.

    1. How it’s going so far Adrian?
      I agree about the ego factor. Potentially present as an automatic response to fear and the slowly emergent conscious incompetence in a new role. That and, management development is still task, model, process, focused with a great need for enhancing communication skills. In delivering facilitation and presentation skills, holding and sharing power is never on the qual criteria, but for me an essential. I wonder where people learn this as leaders. Trial and error?

  2. Beautiful!
    Kindness, with niceness, is underrated, and too often viewed as the softer approach. When really, as you mentioned, it builds strengths.
    Your point about sharing our random-acts-of got me thinking. I’ve seen lots of video clips where people share their deed on SoMe – and overall, I think ‘why not’ – pass it on. I wonder if we need to explicitly tell someone about acts of kindness for it to be paid forward. Or if that’s not the point.
    A few months back I was walking the dog alone and did a thing. No one saw or knew. (Haha – honestly, nothing dodgy). Then 3 weeks back, someone did an almost identical thing for me! I was overjoyed.
    A lesson in delayed gratification.
    I’m also thinking how kindness by intention is not implicitly kindness by perception.

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